Stigma continues to be an obstacle for many individuals struggling with emotional health challenges. Seeking help for these challenges is additionally made more difficult with the limited quality of best practice resources. Stigma, whether community or self-based, inhibits many from even acknowledging their struggles. Not knowing where to find quality help adds to the complications.
As a nation and members of the behavioral health community, we need to make the goal of reducing the stigma of mental illness even more of a reality. Some improvements and changes have been made. However, much more awaits us as gatekeepers, stakeholders, and consumers. Quality service and upskilling the work force is a continuing necessity for all.
Stigma is perpetuated through lack of knowledge, stereotypes, blame, contact and prior experience, media portrayals, things we say, and costuming. Key factors in the cycle of stigma are labelling, social exclusion and discrimination.
We invite all to participate in the goal of continuing to reduce the stigma of mental illness and improving and enhancing the visibility of the resources available. To this end, we ask that individuals and all agencies and organizations develop an Action Plan focused on what can be done to reduce the stigma. Ask yourself what are three things I or my organization can do to educate and bring to awareness to the struggles of those with mental illness considering some of the above challenges. Perhaps this can start with education for all with regard to what mental illness is and is not. Public education can go a long way in SAVING LIVES.
Please email me with your or your organization’s plan at Max.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mansour (Max) Banilivy, PhD, is Director of Clinical Training, Education and Internship Placements at WellLife Network.